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Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction

From: Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

Video: Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction

I think the question I get asked the most often from people working with digital images is how to reduce noise in their images? They find the noise distracting and they want to eliminate it or at least reduce it. So let's open up an image that's kind of representative of some of these issues. I've got this JPEG here. I'm going to go ahead and open that up in Camera Raw using the Open in Camera Raw button. We'll go ahead and start by opening up the shadow detail of this image to kind of reveal more detail in the shadows. But also show that when you use the Fill Light slider, one of the common side effects there is that Camera Raw is doing such a good job of revealing shadow detail, but it's also revealing the color noise that's present in the file that you may not have noticed since the image in certain areas was so black or so dark.

Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction

I think the question I get asked the most often from people working with digital images is how to reduce noise in their images? They find the noise distracting and they want to eliminate it or at least reduce it. So let's open up an image that's kind of representative of some of these issues. I've got this JPEG here. I'm going to go ahead and open that up in Camera Raw using the Open in Camera Raw button. We'll go ahead and start by opening up the shadow detail of this image to kind of reveal more detail in the shadows. But also show that when you use the Fill Light slider, one of the common side effects there is that Camera Raw is doing such a good job of revealing shadow detail, but it's also revealing the color noise that's present in the file that you may not have noticed since the image in certain areas was so black or so dark.

So you can see here it's plain easy to see the color noise issue, and that's these random red, green, and blue colorization of the pixels if you will, and most of the time that's just ugly and distracting. It's very typical to see in low light situations such as this, you typically see it on camera cell phones or cheap consumer cameras that you might carry in your pocket or your purse. More expensive cameras do a much better job. They have better sensors in low-light situations, but you can even get digital noise on the most expensive camera as well. Now, the other type of noise is the graininess that you see.

That is a separate issue. That's called luminance noise. We'll talk about how to reduce or eliminate both types of noise here using Camera Raw in just a moment. First, let's go ahead and zoom-in on a particular area, and just we'll zoom up right here towards her nose maybe to 50%. So we can see a better representation of the color noise. To get rid of both types of noise, you're going to switch out of the Basic tab, which of course is the default tab of controls. So I'll switch over to the third tab from the left called the Detail tab. It's this one here with the two triangles. Let's go ahead and click on that tab.

You'll see we have controls for Sharpening and Noise Reduction. Two different types of Noise Reduction, you can see there is a Luminance slider and there is a Color slider. The first thing I want to point out though is this little message down here at the bottom. It says for a more accurate preview, zoom the preview size to 100% or larger when adjusting the controls in this panel. What this really should say is if you're not at 100% or higher, you're not going to really see any effect of these sliders at all. So I'll show you what I mean. I'm going to go ahead and take this Color slider and drag it to the right, all the way to the right and it doesn't appear to be doing anything, which kind of at first glance would suck, but it actually is doing something.

It's just not showing you the preview until you get to that 100% view. So let's go ahead and just click on her nose, click on her nose one more time till we get to the 100% view. All of a sudden that color noise has disappeared. Now the graininess is still there. Remember that's the Luminance Noise. But those random red, green, and blue pixels have seemingly changed their color back to match the actual color of the image. Now, to show you the before and after, I'm going to press the letter P to turn off the Preview, there is before. Turn the Preview back on by pressing P again, and there is after.

You should see and notice the difference there coming across in the video. You can see in the before especially in this area here that I'm kind of hovering over with the cursor here, see this really big pink splotch, I'll turn the Preview back on. You'll see that's been eliminated. Now one thing to point out is, sometimes you'll get some blurring effect, some softening of detail, where the color noise is being reduced. So take a look at her nostril here. You can see it's not quite as crisp as it used to be. There has been a little bit of blurring or softening along those edges. I'll turn the Preview back off.

You can see it was a little crisper there and more well refined. Let's turn the Preview back on. There is a slider here in the Noise Reduction panel here called Color Detail. That's where you can try to eliminate or reduce the softening and blurring of the details, where color noise is being reduced. So you can see that I've taken the Color Detail slider all the way over to 100, and that nostril looks much more well-defined now. If I double-click on any slider inside Camera Raw, that takes it back to its default value.

You can see now that it's a little bit softer and blurry again. The default value being 50 for Color Detail. Let's take that all the way back up to 100. You can see the color detail is being a little bit better preserved with that additional slider. In terms of the Luminance noise, the graininess here, you can also work to reduce or eliminate that as well. Again, you should be aware though that you are going to be softening the image in the process. You're kind of blurring out this grain. So if you take it too far, you may not be happy with the results, but Camera Raw does a pretty good job here.

Let's take the Luminance slider and start dragging that to the right and you'll see that the overall grain is kind of just being blurred. Again, if you take it too far, you might make the image way too blurry and just only be left with extreme edge detail. So let's back off of that a little bit, and take it more down to say 35 is good for this particular image. It just depends on how aggressive you want to be about eliminating that graininess. People expect in low light situations to have a sort of grittiness or graininess to the overall aesthetic of the image, so don't be afraid to leave some of it in there. There you have it.

Just as a reminder, I'm just taking this down just a little bit more to maybe 25 to leave some of it still there. If I go back to view the whole image again, so if I go back to the View pop-up menu here and choose Fit in View, it's going to look again like that color noise has not been addressed. If I turn the Preview on and off, you're not really seeing a change right now. Again, to see the effect of the Noise Reduction controls, you do have to be in at at least 100% or larger. So I'm just clicking-and- dragging to get pass the 100% view. Now when I press the P key, you can see the before and the after.

Very powerful technique and controls for reducing and eliminating both Color and Luminance Noise, all built into Camera Raw. Just be sure to remember that you're at that 100% view or larger to actually see the results of the change.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS5 Essential Training
Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

154 video lessons · 93184 viewers

Michael Ninness
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 6m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. What is Photoshop?
      2m 49s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 34s
  2. 28m 29s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      1m 54s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      3m 39s
    3. A tour of the different workspaces in Adobe Bridge
      4m 58s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      3m 35s
    5. Changing obscure camera file names with the Batch Rename command
      2m 36s
    6. Adding basic metadata to every image with metadata templates
      3m 36s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      4m 6s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      4m 5s
  3. 23m 4s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejects
      5m 27s
    2. Protecting the keepers by saving them in collections
      3m 18s
    3. Rating images
      3m 15s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      4m 43s
    5. Viewing final choices in a slideshow
      2m 12s
    6. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      4m 9s
  4. 30m 50s
    1. Raw vs. JPEG files
      5m 13s
    2. Why you should start in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      5m 9s
    3. A tour of the Camera Raw user interface
      6m 44s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments
      4m 2s
    5. Toggling onscreen Shadow/Highlight clipping warnings
      2m 37s
    6. Choosing output settings
      2m 45s
    7. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      4m 20s
  5. 41m 34s
    1. Eliminating red-eye with the Red Eye Removal tool
      1m 13s
    2. Improving composition with the non-destructive Crop tool
      3m 33s
    3. Correcting a rotated horizon line with the Straighten tool
      3m 5s
    4. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      2m 13s
    5. Fixing blown-out highlights with Recovery
      2m 36s
    6. Revealing hidden shadow detail with Fill Light
      1m 47s
    7. Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction
      5m 37s
    8. Removing color fringes with Chromatic Aberration
      2m 36s
    9. Sharpening the details
      8m 59s
    10. End to end: Taking a so-so photo and making it great
      9m 55s
  6. 39m 5s
    1. Fixing blown-out skies with the Graduated Filter tool
      4m 34s
    2. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      5m 41s
    3. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush
      4m 28s
    4. Quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      4m 33s
    5. Converting to black and white
      3m 36s
    6. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustments tool
      4m 18s
    7. Easy sepia and split tone effects
      2m 35s
    8. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 46s
    9. Adding vignettes and border effects
      2m 13s
    10. Saving variations within a single file with Snapshots
      4m 21s
  7. 15m 48s
    1. Copying settings from one file and pasting across another in Adobe Bridge
      3m 7s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      2m 28s
    3. Saving and using a library of Camera Raw presets
      5m 33s
    4. Using Image Processor to batch process multiple files
      4m 40s
  8. 30m 39s
    1. Opening files from Adobe Bridge
      3m 1s
    2. Opening files from Mini Bridge
      3m 28s
    3. Customizing the Mini Bridge panel
      2m 57s
    4. Changing Mini Bridge so it auto-collapses
      1m 20s
    5. The Application frame
      2m 16s
    6. The Application bar
      1m 16s
    7. Switching and saving workspaces
      4m 23s
    8. Panel management
      5m 31s
    9. Switching tools using the keyboard
      3m 18s
    10. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      3m 9s
  9. 16m 12s
    1. Tabbed documents
      2m 1s
    2. The Arrange Documents widget
      1m 38s
    3. How to stop Photoshop from tabbing documents
      3m 34s
    4. Pan and zoom
      5m 21s
    5. Cycling through the different screen modes
      3m 38s
  10. 36m 59s
    1. File formats
      13m 6s
    2. What resolution does your image need to be?
      10m 15s
    3. Resize vs. Resample
      9m 40s
    4. How big a print can you make with your image?
      3m 58s
  11. 42m 17s
    1. Crop options
      4m 12s
    2. Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      3m 30s
    3. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
      1m 34s
    4. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      6m 1s
    5. Making the canvas bigger by a specific amount with Relative Canvas Size
      1m 39s
    6. Correcting perspective with the Crop tool
      3m 5s
    7. Straightening a crooked image
      50s
    8. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      4m 12s
    9. Nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      4m 2s
    10. Warping images
      3m 40s
    11. Preserving the important elements with Content-Aware Scaling
      9m 32s
  12. 54m 42s
    1. The Background layer
      5m 14s
    2. Using a layer mask instead of deleting pixels
      4m 12s
    3. Loading multiple images into a single Photoshop document as layers
      1m 30s
    4. Naming, hiding, creating, and deleting layers
      4m 18s
    5. Changing the stacking order of layers
      2m 51s
    6. Selecting layers without using the Layers panel
      6m 28s
    7. Transforming layers
      7m 16s
    8. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 51s
    9. Changing the opacity of layers
      2m 57s
    10. Organizing layers into groups
      2m 55s
    11. Saving variations with layer comps
      5m 3s
    12. When to merge and rasterize layers
      5m 0s
    13. Flatten vs. Save As (a Copy)
      3m 7s
  13. 1h 4m
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      7m 23s
    2. Transform selections
      2m 40s
    3. Quick Mask is your friend
      4m 31s
    4. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      6m 33s
    5. Using the Quick Selection tool
      3m 1s
    6. Re-selecting a previous selection
      1m 35s
    7. Improving a selection with Refine Edge
      4m 21s
    8. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      12m 7s
    9. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      2m 59s
    10. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      4m 53s
    11. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      3m 53s
    12. Combining multiple exposures with the Blend If sliders
      6m 26s
    13. Replacing the sky in an image
      4m 19s
  14. 1h 1m
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      7m 57s
    2. Starting with a preset
      4m 25s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      10m 28s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      5m 4s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      5m 56s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      2m 55s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      9m 0s
    8. Making washed out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 46s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      5m 49s
    10. Controlling which layers are affected by an Adjustment Layer
      7m 28s
  15. 11m 32s
    1. Shadow/Highlight
      9m 3s
    2. Matching color across multiple images
      2m 29s
  16. 34m 12s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Spot Healing brush
      6m 21s
    2. Quick technique for smoothing skin and pores
      8m 23s
    3. Taming flyaway hair
      4m 47s
    4. Making teeth bright and white
      1m 43s
    5. De-emphasizing wrinkles
      4m 41s
    6. Removing unwanted details with Content Aware Fill
      4m 26s
    7. Body sculpting with Liquify
      3m 51s
  17. 21m 6s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      7m 20s
    2. Combining multiple frames of an action sequence
      8m 30s
    3. Combining group shots with Auto-Align
      5m 16s
  18. 25m 36s
    1. Overview of filters
      4m 6s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively with Smart Filters
      4m 45s
    3. Giving an image a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      4m 41s
    4. Adding noise to an image with the Add Noise filter
      3m 34s
    5. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask
      4m 12s
    6. Giving an image more texture with the Texturizer
      1m 17s
    7. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      3m 1s
  19. 30m 44s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      4m 43s
    2. Three blending modes you must know
      6m 41s
    3. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      3m 33s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      4m 33s
    5. Creating a diffused contrast glow effect with Overlay
      6m 2s
    6. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      5m 12s
  20. 21m 39s
    1. Character (point) type
      8m 19s
    2. Paragraph (area) type
      4m 42s
    3. Type on a path
      2m 54s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      2m 24s
    5. Warping type
      3m 20s
  21. 20m 35s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect
      4m 43s
    2. Adding an outer glow effect
      3m 13s
    3. Adding a border around an image
      2m 53s
    4. Copying layer effects and applying them to other layers
      2m 3s
    5. Saving layer styles and applying them in other documents
      2m 42s
    6. How (and when) to scale layer effects
      5m 1s
  22. 16m 6s
    1. Creating PDF contact sheets
      6m 41s
    2. Exporting web photo galleries
      6m 8s
    3. Saving for the web
      3m 17s
  23. 1m 19s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 19s

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